A year ago, I reported that Alvecote Wood won the Royal Forestry Society competition for the best small woodland in the Midlands and North West of England, something that was honestly beyond anything we had dreamed of when we bought the woods in 2007.
In 2014, all the previous winners and runners-up were entered into a champion of champions competition to find the Best of England, and we were entered in the small woodland category. As the judges had visited us last year, we weren’t visited again but other woodlands were visited, to see what they had done in the meantime. We had not stood still either – this winter we extended our coppice into the edge of Betty’s Wood to revive the hedge, increase light in the lower woodlands, and remove some very large holly that was blocking the light. All of this should help regeneration in an area previously showing very little. We also put up a QR code trail in the woodland so that visitors could use smartphones to scan the codes, bring up a web page with information about that location, with links to activities for all the family.
At the weekend, we heard that we had won, and we are now officially the best small woodland in the whole of England! We started from very humble beginnings, but tried to take a professional approach to ensuring that the site became as valuable as possible for wildlife, as quickly as possible. We were novices, and we are still learning all the time. To be acknowledged by experts in the field is a real surprise, and gives us the confidence to move forward, always with advice and help, to ensure our woodland is a resource for generations to come.
Read more about the Royal Forestry Society competition and this year’s winners using the link below.
You can also read our story, from the Quarterly Journal of Forestry (pdf) here